It’s September. The kids are back at school. It’s that time of year when things pick up speed once again after the summer break. But this also makes it the perfect time to take stock. To reflect on how things are going so far this year, and to make plans for the coming months. It shouldn’t be just a case of thinking broadly about what’s gone by though. It should be a case of actively learning from experience, or essentially learning from, or by doing.
We can all take courses or read self-help books, but when we actually reflect on what we learn and put it into practice, we naturally become more engaged. This increased engagement then goes on to ultimately, increase performance. Think of all of the times we’ve signed up for a challenge or some training. We complete it. We might even enjoy it. But then we don’t put what our theoretical learning into practice. We don’t experience the benefits of that learning, and eventually it falls by the wayside.
But before we get into the importance of learning from experience more deeply, let’s think about why learning at all is so important.
The importance of learning
If I’m honest, learning has always been part of my DNA. Admittedly, there have been many things that I’ve had to learn, but have now forgotten – like how to add up fractions with a different denominator. There are even things I’ve wanted to learn – like Russian – but then I haven’t applied what I’ve learned in a really long time. Then there are things I’ve had to learn. Like accounting and SEO.
But the idea of learning – the acquisition of new knowledge or skills – is the same in all of these cases. Again, another common thread is that the idea of learning means that we aren’t standing still. And for me, this is what the importance of learning comes down to. When we actively try to reflect on the past, or to learn something new, we are, equally as actively, choosing to make progress and move forward. This even applies to the idea of failure – in that failure in itself doesn’t exist. It’s actually just another opportunity to learn.
How to learn from your experiences in a business context
Where do we start then, when it comes to learning from experiences in a business context? Well, first of all you need to build time in, to your schedule to work on this. Taking that time to work on your business, not just in it, is so important. You can build up to this of course, if this kind of practice is new for you, but we’d suggest planning in a variety of reflection/learning points – at monthly, quarterly and annual intervals.
You can create your own review format that works for your brain and your business, but here are a few of the questions you might like to ask yourself:
- What have been your biggest achievements over the last quarter?
- What have been your biggest challenges, what have you learning from them, and how have you moved past them?
- What are your biggest lessons learned?
- What skills, habits or processes have helped? And do you need to work further on any of these areas?
- Is there anything you need to leave behind as you move forward into the coming month/quarter/year?
The answers you give to the above should then be carried forward into your planning. For example, if you’ve had a trial of a piece of software that’s proved to be useful, do you need to sign up for it in the longer term? If you’ve realised you’re not taking breaks, and that this is being detrimental to your health, how can you build that in to your schedule? And if you’ve had a difficult experience, or something just hasn’t gone to plan, what will you learn from the experience? And what will you do to make sure things go better next time?
“Nothing we learn in this world is ever wasted.”
To quote Eleanor Roosevelt. And at Tabono we definitely agree with that. So don’t ever be afraid to get things wrong. Don’t ever be afraid to try, try and try again. Never feel bad for asking for help or support. Because all of these things show how committed you are to learning, and to making things better.
So as we move into this final few months of the year, why not accept our challenge? Take some time out to review how things are really going for you. Celebrate your achievements and learn from the things that haven’t gone so well. And most importantly, take that learning, and use it to inform wherever you choose to go from here. And if you need some support with that, just let us know!